Senator Dick Durbin
By Ray O’Hanlon
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is this week sounding the alarm over an immigration bill currently before the U.S. Senate.
And the Hibernians have penned an urgent letter to Senator Dick Durbin to express their concern.
The letter to the Illinois Democrat states that the Hibernians want to “express our concern regarding H.R. 1044/S. 386 ‘The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019’ currently before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.”
The letter to Durbin states: “There is little of ‘Fairness’ in this bill; in fact, H.R. 1044/S. 386, would only compound the inequalities of the current visa allocation system in general and towards the Irish in particular.”
The letter asks Durbin to oppose H.R. 1044/S. 386 from moving forward to unanimous consent.
It goes on to list a number of reasons.
Those reasons as stated in the letter: “The current cap on any one country receiving more than 7 percent of available green cards was put in place to guard against the monopolization of the green card process by a few large countries. Even with the current cap, research shows that fear to be justified.
“Of the H-1B petitions approved in FY 2017, 75.6% of the beneficiaries were from India, followed by China, South Korea, and the Philippines; the rest of the world’s nations, including Ireland, did not even register for statistical tracking purposes.
“During the period from 2015 to 2017, one Indian I.T. Firm, HCL Technologies, received 10,432 H-1B visas and 310 L-1 visas. During that same period, the entire island of Ireland received only 372 visas through the Diversity Visa program.
“In the most recent Diversity Visa program, Ireland received 66 of an available 55,000 visas. To give perspective, this is only a quarter of the number of Medal of Honor recipients who list “Ireland” as their birthplace (257).”
The letter, signed by AOH National President Judge James F. McKay III, National Immigration Chair Dan Dennehy, and National Political Education Chair Neil Cosgrove, continued: “Respectfully Senator Durbin, the inequity in our current immigration system is manifest, but H.R. 1044/S. 386 would exacerbate, not mitigate, this inequality by giving additional visas to nations that already receive tens of thousands of visas annually at the expense of smaller nations and the diversity of the U.S. immigration process.
“Since 1965, every immigration act passed under the guise of “reform” and “fairness” has disproportionately and adversely impacted Irish immigrants to the benefit of other nationals; H.R. 1044/S. 386 would be yet another chapter in this sad legacy.
“Throughout a proud history, Irish immigrants have asked nothing of America but an opportunity, which in gratitude they have repaid by contributing to every field of American endeavor. “H.R. 1044/S. 386 creates a monopoly of opportunity benefitting only certain nationals; it copper-fastens the “No Irish Need Apply” sign which has shamefully hung on the Golden Door of American immigration for over five decades.”
The letter concludes: “We ask you, Senator Durbin, to reject H.R. 1044/S. 386 and challenge your colleagues to deliver fairness to all, not just to some, in the U.S. Immigration process.”
S.386 is a bipartisan measure that was co-introduced several years ago by Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah and California Democrat Kamala Harris. It is a companion bill to H.R. 1044 which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Harris, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election, is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as is Senator Durbin and Senator Lee.
The judiciary panel is chaired by the GOP’s Senator Lindsey Graham.
Critics have contended that the Senate bill is a product of lobbying by big tech firms and overseas lobbyists.
At this juncture, Senator Durbin has placed a “hold” on the bill.